The 12-week trial that led to Lynn's conviction also linked the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua to the archdiocese's policy of moving suspected predator priests to other parishes, rather than alerting civil authorities. As former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham said, "The cover-up went all the way to the top."
The area-based Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse said Lynn's sentencing Tuesday by Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina means that "those who put themselves and their institutions before the safety of children run the risk of major consequences."
Other religious organizations have taken notice. Lynn's conviction, and the damning report detailing a cover-up of child sexual abuse on the Pennsylvania State University campus, led the Orthodox Church in America to dismiss its leader for protecting a violent, alcoholic priest accused of rape.
Metropolitan Jonah was forced to resign only a few days after the Penn State report was issued on July 12 by former FBI Director Louis Freeh. The church said Jonah had "unilaterally accepted into the OCA a priest known to him and to others to be actively and severely abusing alcohol, which more than once was coupled with episodes of violence and threats toward women."
An alleged rape victim in 2010 reported the crime to the police, but was later intimidated by members of the church who told her and a relative that "their salvation depended on their silence."
In dismissing Jonah, the OCA said that it could not risk the potential liability. Indeed, the Roman Catholic Church has already paid more than $1 billion to victims of priest abuse, and Penn State will likely pay more than $100 million in damages, not including legal fees.
City prosecutors say they plan to retry Philadelphia priest James J. Brennan after a mistrial was declared in his part of the case that included Lynn.
In addition to pursuing that and other sex-abuse cases involving priests, there's another step that also should be taken, but legislatively: Give long-ago abuse victims a chance for their day in court even when the statute of limitations has expired.
To do that, Pennsylvania lawmakers need to join Delaware and California in authorizing a two-year window for lawsuits to be filed so these victims can seek justice in the civil courts.
Despite the continued vehement opposition of the state conference of Catholic bishops, as well as Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, that's the right thing to do — and the best way to dispel the notion that a cover-up within the church continues.